Ray Allen hasn’t played in an NBA game since July 2014, but the 41-year-old shooting guard was not officially retired until this morning, when he announced his exit from the NBA in an essay published on The Players’ Tribune.
Allen will certainly be a Hall of Famer, and he will be remembered as a player whose dedication to creating the purest jump shot possible was both singular and unsurpassed.
The shot that Allen hit in Game 6 of the 2013 finals will not only go down as the highlight of his career, but as the perfect representation of what kind of player he was. That bucket was the result of a desperate, madcap sequence that ended with Allen wading through the chaos and finding himself in the right place at the right time. He wasn’t in position to hit that shot by coincidence, though, because that exact scenario was something he’d practiced many times throughout his career. That was Ray Allen, a player so committed to his craft that words like “miraculous” lost all meaning when the ball was in his hands. There was only the preparation and routine, followed by the inevitable result.
It’s sort of strange now to look back at Allen’s statistics and realize that the shooting numbers which once made him something of an outlier in the NBA are now considered routine. Allen only averaged more than eight three-point attempts per game twice in his career; Steph Curry shot 11 per game last season, and was one of eight players who shot seven or more per game. If you’re looking for a forerunner to today’s ball-handling, shot-happy stars, look no further than Allen:
It’s hard not to wonder how Allen’s career might have gone differently if he’d played in an era as friendly to the three-point shot as this one is. Maybe he would have shot 15 threes and scored 32 points per game and won a few MVP awards. I guess he’ll have to settle for a Hall-of-Fame career, one of the most iconic shots in NBA history, and having provided a blueprint for a generation of stars who have changed the way basketball is played.